VGTs and Skill Games will help family-owned taverns, bars, and licensed restaurants hurt from losing exclusive six-pack sales
The following is a statement from Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. The statement concerns Governor Shapiro’s 2024 budget address and gaming expansion into bars.
(Harrisburg, February 6, 2024) Today, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro in his annual budget plan indicated his interest to legalize, regulate, and tax skill games that can be found throughout the Keystone State.
Specifically, his plan calls for “A tax of 42 percent on the daily gross gaming revenue from electronic gaming machines that involve an element of skill and are regulated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.” (https://www.budget.pa.gov/Publications%20and%20Reports/CommonwealthBudget/Documents/2024-25%20Budget%20Documents/2024-25%20Budget%20in%20Brief%20v.1%20wCovers.pdf, page 31).
Legislative leaders from all four caucuses appear to indicate some interest in addressing the skill games issue that has been lingering and has faced legal challenges.
The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association (PaTaverns), founded in 1941, believes the time has come for it to be resolved. Our Association supports gaming expansion into Pennsylvania’s bars, taverns, and licensed restaurants including video gaming terminals (VGTs) and skill games.
But, let’s learn a lesson from the current tavern gaming laws that have been a disaster with so few participating. The tax structure on those games just isn’t attractive, and is a major reason why there is an extremely low number of active tavern gaming licenses … and thus tax revenue from those games. So a 42% tax might not work.
However, there might be a nugget in all of this that could create a win-win situation for Pennsylvania taxpayers and Pennsylvania tavern owners.
It’s very evident that Pennsylvania’s family-owned taverns have struggled since the state took away their exclusive right to sell six-packs of beer to go. A past survey of our members clearly shows how the expansion of six-packs-to-go sales several years ago hurt small businesses bars throughout the state.
Legalizing gaming expansion into bars through VGTs and skill games could help that situation while generating new revenue for the state. There already is precedent through tavern gaming laws that allows gaming in bars where such activities can be closely monitored, regulated, and taxed.
So let’s create a win-win situation for Pennsylvania taxpayers and family-owned PaTaverns by wisely expanding gaming via VGTs and skill games in bars.
PaTaverns thanks Governor Shapiro for raising this issue and supports gaming expansion of VGTs and skill games into Pennsylvania’s bars, taverns, and licensed restaurants.
# # #
The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association is the statewide political voice for small business taverns and licensed restaurants. Based in Harrisburg, the Association formed after Prohibition in 1941, reorganized in 2019, and today advocates for best practices and rights within the industry as well as best experiences for patrons. To learn more, visit www.pataverns.com or follow the Association on Twitter via @TavernPA.